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tv   CNN Tonight With Don Lemon  CNN  December 19, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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that does it for us. cnn tonight with don lemon starts now. a possible terror attack kills at least 12 people in berlin. and russia's ambassador to turkey assassinated. this is cnn tonight, i'm don lemon. a tractor-trailer plowing into a crowded christmas market. sending shoppers for their lives. at least 48 people injured. the suspected driver is in custody. german officials investigating
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the crash as an act of terrorism. the white house weighing in, saying it appears to be a terrorist act. we're going to investigate all of that, the assassination of russia's ambassador to turkey. i have to warn you the video is graphic. it's not suitable for the children or faint of hot. the gunman shouting god is greatest. and do not forget aleppo after shooting the russian ambassador from behind. here it is. [ gunfire ] >> alla akbar. >> president-elect donald trump in a statement tonight, calling the gunman a radical islamic terrorist. a whole lot to get to in the next two hours. let's begin with the deadly crash in berlin. i want to bring in elise lavin. frederick, i'm going to start with you.
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now being investigated as terror. what more can you tell us. >> well, don, we know there's forensic units working the crime screen that's behind me, it was a really big truck. a tractor trailer that plowed into the market around 8:00 p.m. here. there's one man in custody at this point in time, the berlin police at this point in time says they're not sure what the nationality of that man is, or if they can be 100% certain, that he was the one sitting at the wheel of the truck as it plowed through the market. there was a second man sitting dead on the passenger seat who they later found who was a polish citizen, and that's significant, because the truck has polish license plates that belongs to a polish trucking company. they lost contact with their driver at some point on monday. so they fear the truck may have been hijacked and used on this
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christmas market. 48 people wounded in addition to the dead. >> i want to bring elise in now. the u.s. issued a warning in november about this kind of attack. what can you tell us about that? >> that's right, don, there's been a lot of concern about attacks in europe throughout the summer, and you have those attacks last year in paris and berlin. germany in fact there were a few attacks over there somewhere, in november, the state department issued a warning specifically about the holiday season. the department of state alerts citizens to terrorist attacks throughout europe, particularly during the holiday season. u.s. citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events. the islamic state of iraq, isis
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or daesh. these are the soft targets in a have been an opportunity for isis. particularly in the holiday season where people are at these outdoor markets. >> you mentioned harrowing accounts of what happened when the truck plowed into the crowd. what have witnesses been telling you? >>. >> they say that when this happened, the truck plowed into the christmas market about 40 miles an hour, it was very fast, making no effort to hit the breaks, once it went through some of those barricades that are at the outside of that christmas market. it then destroyed several of these market stalls which are made of light wood, the big problem here was that the market was jam packed, 8:00 p.m. at night. a lot of people would have been coming from shopping to go to these christmas markets. they're a huge event here in
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berlin, there's some very narrow pathways, nowhere for people to go. there's reports of people being trapped under a truck, as it kept moving forward, obviously it took out a lot of people as it kept moving along, finally came to a standstill after going for about probably 70 or 80 yards through this christmas market. so some devastating accounts of people being wounded afterwars s people trying to help those laying on the floor. the emergency rescue personnel trying to come in and help people. at least for 12 people, all efforts came late. also don, the absolute fear that many people felt as all this was happening, as elise said, people had been warned that there might be attacks this christmas season. there might be attacks on christmas markets, it's something they had feared. and then when it happened, it was just happening too fast for many people to be able to get out of the way. >> the other piece of developing news we were talking about is a
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russian ambassador to turkey, we showed that video today, moments ago. he was assassinated in ankorra. what can you tell us? >> this was a few moments ago, we got reports from turkish news agencies that a man standing outside the u.s. embassy was arrested for firing his gun in the air. we understand he took a weapon out of his pocket, started firing in the air, you can see this video of him being taken away many now, this -- the u.s. embassy is in the same area where the russian embassy is, and also where the art gallery was where the russian ambassador was assassinated today, so we don't know at this point if they're related, but obviously a lot of police activity in the area, that's why the u.s. embassy has sent an alert to citizens to stay away from the embassy, even though they think there's an all clear and no more danger to u.s. citizens or anyone else right now. >> i want you to stand by.
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bring in paul crookshank. what do you make of it? >> they're investigating that as a potential terrorism, the ankorra shooting earlier. there's no link to terrorism, in that case. but in berlin, people treating this incident as a potential terrorist attack, they're investigating this furiously, they see many of the hallmarks of a knee style attack that we saw play out in the summer of this year, in which 86 people were killed, and in that attack, the truck managed to travel for a distance of more than a mile. you had a higher casualty count.
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in this case, the truck was only able to travel 50 or 60 yards. the casualty count was a little lower. in berlin tonight. >> let's stick with berlin, is this isis, do you think? >> there has been no claim of responsibility by any terrorist grown, that's been silenced from isis, but what we can say is that over the past several months, isis has been flooding the zone when it comes to propaganda, comes to their followers in the west, a truck attack. against civilians that are out walking at a christmas market, they even, in the united states call for a truck attack on the thanksgiving day parade, the macy's parade over there. of course, just a few weeks ago, in ohio we saw a radicalized student carry out a vehicle ramming attack, fortunately no one was killed in that attack, but somebody that had been inspired by some of this isis
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and indeed al qaeda propaganda. we're seeing many of the hallmarks of islamist style attacks, and the back story here in german economy is of an unprecedented terrorist threat that officials say they're facing from isis, from people inspired by isis in the country. over the last several months, there have been five very serious attacks and plots which have been connected to isis in various ways, some of them involving operatives sent from syria to germany, some of them involving people, sympathizers in germany who are in touch with operatives in syria, over encrypted messaging apps being given detailed instructions about how to attack -- the system has been blinking red, when it comes to the terrorism threat, don. in germany. there's a real feeling of inevitability about this. >> is this what -- why germany
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now? is it because the opportunity, as fred said, and you know, these christmas markets are popular this time of year, is it because of the intelligence you mentioned coming in? why germany now? >> germany is involved in target recon sense missions over isis territory, they're not dropping bombs on isis or targeting them in air strikes. they're involved in that broader anti-isis coalition. they made it clear they want to attack germany to strike back. you've seen so many come into germany through these migrant flows. the unfortunate reality is, while the vast majority of refugees pose no security threat, there are some isis operatives who manage to infiltrate themselves in. including the majority of the paris and brussels cell, and there's also concern in germany, which is a country that has
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perhaps a million refugees right now, that some of these dislocated young men and women could be radicalized by islamist extremists in germany that as they come to a new country with a new culture, they've left so much behind and been through such dramatic experiences, they could be vulnerable to that kind of improvement. we have seen some attacks by people who have claimed asylum in germany, it's a growing concern. >> i want to ask you, we had -- i'm sure you heard elise earlier, she put up the warning, i don't know if we can put it back up about these types of attacks. there it is in europe. they had this -- this was in november that the state development released this. how vulnerable do you think the rest of europe is now, and what about the u.s., paul? >> i think that there's a very large vulnerability in europe, the reality are, there are tens of thousands of people that have
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become radicalized across the continent in europe and one country, france. the figure is 13, 14, 15,000 people who are being monitored in one way shape or form for their radical views. that's a huge amount and that creates all sorts of security threats moving forward. on top of that, we've seen up to 9,000 europeans travel to isis territory in syria and iraq. 2 or 3,000 have now come back to europe, that produces all sorts of security concerns as well. this is a worrying period coming out for europe. the only good news here is that it's become more difficult for people to travel to syria and iraq, and more difficult for them to send operatives back. that corridor they exploited so sava savagely, thanks to a deal between the european union and turkey, that's really been
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closed down to a great degree, much more difficult for them to send operatives back to europe. they are still trying, they want to get attacks through, they're losing territory in syria and iraq, that's put an impetus on them to change the subject line, to project a sense of strength. external headquarters, they are pressing the accelerator button right now. the threat is much better in europe, much less big in the united states, they're just many fewer who have become radicalized. we're talking about a thousand individuals on the radar screen. about 800 cases linked to isis. think of those tens of thousands of cases of people on the radar screen in europe, you get a sense of the much greater scale of the threat. of course of the continent which really just -- people can travel back over land from syria and iraq. >> thank you very much. elise lav it as well. straight ahead, more of our coverage on the deadly crash.
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also coming up, the assassination of russia's ambassador to turkey caught on video, russia's foreign ministry calling the murder a terror attack.
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first the russian ambassador was assassinated in turkey, then a deadly truck crash in berlin, it's being investigated as an act of terrorism. michael weiss, the co author of isis inside the army of terror the author of security mom. bob bear, security intelligence analyst, good evening to all of you. i want to start with you, because you were in berlin a month ago. did you see any signs of
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increased security? >> no. no visible ones, i thought it was quite remarkable. it's a public space. despite the fact that there are a number of alerts not just with the united states but nato and interpoll. i was also at a high profile event which i thought was less secure. i tend to notice these things, none the less anyone will tell you, did they do anything to stop something like this after northeast. >> we were all here covering berlin, had a similar -- covering nice. another question for you, juliet. the attacker's motive unclear right now, do they have a person
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in custody. what are the questions that investigators are asking right now? >>. >> i've always said, you're happy, in a world of misery, he was capture add live, he may speak, he may not. if he does speak, it will be who was the other person in the truck. in particular, where they get the truck from, two they come from another country. there are reports about polish connection. affiliates and others, did they obviously have any foreign travel in the recent future, this stuff is happening so fast, we often talk about the runway of radicalization it may be they never travel abroad or they travelled abroad relatively recently. the runway of radicalization is
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so fast. a lot of them are not on any lists on the stage. >> i totally agree, these people are learning quickly, they're finding apps you can't get into. signal, has been outlawed in egypt. they know how to communicate, they understand the national security agency. they know about e-mail chains and the rest of it, and their discipline is getting better and better all the time as this work continues. so this person may have been inspired by the islamic state, but was actually controlled by the islamic state as something different. at the end of the day, does it really matter? you steal a truck, a lot of weight. there's nothing you can do to defend against it. as long as these conflicts are going on in the middle east. you're going to find ready recru recruits, and the ramp is getting shorter and shorter. the german police are very good, how do you stop something like
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this? >> that's the interesting question, we often -- you have so many sources there that you talk to do you think it's -- >> it could be isis, it could be al qaeda, it could be somebody inspired by a different jihadist organization. it does bear all the hallmarks of a terrorist attack. one thing that's giving me pause here, the reporting and again, this hasn't been confirmed this was a truck that was stolen as opposed to say rented or purchased by the assailant. >> that speaks to a slight level of operational security. >> this is not a guy who went to the 1993 world trade center bombing, the reason we knew who did it, he wanted to get his deposit back from the car rental place. he was a professional terrorist. >> they've always told me, germany has got an enormous
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bull's eye painted on it. france and belgium, that's where they want to strike first and foremost. they come from the frank-o-phone network in europe. they may not be dropping bombs in the islamic state, they're doing things to help intelligence gathering, they're honoring the kurds, the peshmerga. remember isis is the biggest battle that led the united states into the intervention in syria. that was isis versus the pkk, they consider the kurds to be mortal enemies, at least kurds backed by the united states and germany. >> that horrible assassination that happened. the attack was chilling and graphic, we're going to play it now, and then we'll discuss it. [ gunfire ]
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>> alla akbar. >> the killer stood behind the ambassador. do not forget aleppo, do not forget syria. russia inserted itself into the syrian war they have been bombing hospital civilians, could this be a national attack, a pay back? >> it absolutely could. the motivations are, pretty clear from what he's saying, it's some sort of focus on russia for its support or at least the perceived support of what is happening in aleppo. there are two aspects to this that are quintessential -- he knew it was going to be filmed. we have these amazing photographs, this is going to have consequences well beyond that room imagine if this hadn't been filmed, the other issue of relevance with this attack is, we know how putin is responding now, he's saying it's an act of
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terror. putin's been semireserved for him, that is because of the sort of closeness of turkey and russia in the last couple months, they disagree about syria, i think it's safe to say, it's not clear that this is going to be a divide between turkey and russia, that it may actually bring them closer together as surky realigns itself away from the west. >> i agree with that, when turkey shot down russia's fighter jet in november 2015, you know, the chatter was, this is the beginning of world war ii, it's true, russia had a very chest pounding, it froze all diplomatic and trade relations with turkey, putin was the first foreign leader to call erdowan. he's going after isis and preventing kurdish separatism in syria.
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something they do not warrant to see. the relationship is growing closer all the time, and neither can afford to throw a spatter in the works here. >> bob? >> i think what's more equally important is russia getting drawn into the syrian conflict, it's by no means over. it's a quagmire. i don't think putin knows what he's doing at the end of the day, he's going to see more attacks against russia. more troops, he's going to run out of money at some point. they shot down a russian passenger airliner. i think we're going to see more and more the more russia gets in in the middle east. >> coming up, first lady michelle obama opens up about her time in the white house, and a depiction of her that she feels is based on fear. take a ♪ ♪ ...and if you're lookin' down, ♪ ♪ put a little love in your heart. ♪
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just one month left, as a nation's first lady, michelle obama sat down with oprah win friday and opened up about her eight years in the white house. good evening to all of you. i want you to pay special attention to this. michelle obama talking to oprah about what she calls the first blow back. let's listen. >> when you were labelled that angry black woman. was that done of the things that knocked you back a peg. >> that's one of those things you think, dang, you don't even know me. where did that come from. that's the first blow back.
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that is so not me. but then you sort of think, this isn't about me, it's about the person or people who write it, that's just the truth -- >> that's what mia always used to say to me. >> you start thinking, oh, wow! we're so afraid of each other. color, wealth, these things that don't matter still play too much of a role in how we see one another. it's sad. the thing that leasts defines us as people is the color of your skin. it's the size of our bank account. >> what do you think, simone. >> i think michelle obama is fabulous. throughout this entire interview, michelle obama spoke to every woman and girl in america, throughout the
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interview, but specifically when she talked about being labelled as an angry black woman opinion she really voiced the frustrations of many black women and black girls across america. thank you for keeping it real and speaking for so many of us that don't have a voice sometimes. >> you know, it's weird, i remember having a similar conversation, i don't know if you do, back in 2008, right after the inauguration, i was filling in for wolf blitzer on the situation room. we talked about this particular issue and how the first lady would be perceived and how she was perceived on the campaign trail. she certainly was labelled that early on. an angry black woman. >> yeah, i think she was battling some stereotypes. a lot of the criticism that may come of michelle obama. and if you think back to the late '90s with hillary clinton, it was because they are effective political surrogates,
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they did play more prominent roles on the campaign trail, they did invite a lot of criticism from their husbands political appointments. what i remember is the conversation you and i had after this 2016 convention speech where it was so apparent to even the president's most ardent critics, just how effective michelle obama is as an advocate, and just how popular she is with really important voters inside the american electorate. i think you saw that in this interview, there was a lot of warmth. there was an ability to perry some of her criticisms and turn it into a strength. that's the evolution i watched with michelle obama as a political figure over the last eight years. >> i want to get your response, david. what do you think? how many first ladies have you served with and under? >> i've been -- i served with four and worked here with a
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couple more. i cannot imagine what it's like to be the first african-american first lady and what she is experiencing and what she endured. i can tell you that in a way -- when you come into the white house these days, it's like you're living in a funhouse, and you look at how you're presented to the public and you can't recognize yourself. things are so distorted and portrayed in ways as she was portrayed as the angry first lady, to her credit, she's been on this roller coaster throughout her eight years, she's ending on a tremendous high. she's much much beloved and respected now by wide numbers of people in our population, and i do think that the country is taking heart from the fact that she and mrs. trump indeed george w. bush's wife, they've all --
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they have this sort of sorority of first ladies who have gotten along extremely well. >> did you want to say something? >> michelle obama was also like the first social media first lady, the amount of coverage, the amount of attention and scrutiny that she got, she was really the first to adore just that level. the fact that she's persevered through these past eight years, and has come out popular, is a testament to the connection she had with many americans as an effective first lady. >> i want to bring in the senior vice president of interactive one. let's look at some of the coverage. talk about the progression here. this is newsweek in march of 2010. and vogue of december 2016. so as kevin said, there was anev lucien over time. i remember this angry black woman thing. knowing michelle obama, i don't
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know her well, they were there when i lived in chicago. she was never an angry black woman. she's the nicest person you ever want to meet. and i will say the smartest of the obamas, she really has it going on, if i do say so. she really does, she's on the ball. >> what do you make of what she said. >> she's a remarkable person. it's really hard to find anyone today who has anything negative about michelle obama. i think you guys are being polite. i remember her being compared to monkeys and gorillas. what happened to michelle obama in '08 when she was on the cover of the new yorker. >> you mention that, i will be kind with my words. a friend shared a similar experience with me. that his mom experienced when someone asked, did she look like
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one of those things you said recently. as of a couple days ago. >> yeah. >> and was shocked by it. >> monkey, gorilla, ape. >> where does that come from? >> she says fear? >> it's a deep fear. i think all racism is based on a deep kind of fear, and loathing, right? >> michelle has endured. so the fact that we have collectively allowed her to blossom into this amazing person is one thing, but i think the fact remains, that's who she was from the outset and so many americans didn't want to see that. her critique of the country, saying she was proud, had so much to do with the fact that she was thrilled, overjoyed, surprised -- >> and taken out of context by the way. >> the entire context of that
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conversation was exhilarated, it seemed like the commonality was the leading factor. >> much more to discuss, and i have to say, the first lady is beautiful, i think all first ladies are beautiful and should not be referred to outside of their name and duty. >> of course not. all women are beautiful to that extent, right? >> we'll be right back, we'll continue to discuss this.
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back with me now, david gergen, this is for you. when she asked the first lady if she would ever run, she said no, she went on to say something that stood out to me. listen to this. >> people don't really understand how hard this is. and it's not something that you cavalierly just sort of ask a family to do again. maybe because we got it wrong or we think we got it wrong, now it's like, you do it -- you just go back in there and do it. you're the closest thing to that, you do it. let me just tell america, this is hard. it's a hard job, i said it on the campaign trail, it requires a lot of sacrifice, it's a weighty thing, it's not something that you even look to one family to take on at that level. you know, for that long of a period of time. >> eight years is enough. >> and 16 years would be --
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right? 16 years? i wouldn't do that to my kids, because what people don't understand is, you run their lives stop, at any age. i mean, the next family that comes in here, every person in that family, every child, every grandchild, their lives will be turned upside down in a way that no american really understands. >> sobering words, david gergen. >> very sobering, very interesting. and i -- i do think as i've said earlier, she has been on an emotional roller coaster, this has not been easy for her. there were times, don, and -- when they were about three years in, some friends of the obamas wondered whether she at the end of the first termite want to go
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home. she has persevered and she has emerged as a much stronger player. it's not easy for her, it's not easy for family life. you look at the family that's served the longest there, the roosevelts, he was elected to four terms, he died very early in his fourth term, but that was very hard on their family life. very hard on their marriage. i do think at the same time, at the end of the day -- and i think she'll say this before she leaves, people who have gone through what she's gone through, as tough as it's been are enormously grateful for the opportunity to serve the country. because this is incredibly important job, you're entrusted with the hopes and dreams of so many people, and i think at the end of the day she'll say, look, it was very tough, but i'm glad we did, and i think my husband and i -- or my husband accomplished a great deal for the united states. >> i'm sure she's glad she did it, she was speaking on the context of her running.
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that's tough. do you think there was a message there for the president elect? >> i think there were lots of messages for the president-elect throughout this interview. one of those is to take this seriously, the second message is, this isn't just about you, this is as much about you as it is the people around you, and the folks close to you. i think she got that across well. the last thing i want to know is, michelle obama does not want to be a political figure if you will, she has taken very good care to cultivate this every woman persona, which is why her approval ratings are high across the board and it reaches across party lines, to ask if she's going to run for office, anyone that's been around. i'm not going to purport to know the first lady well, i have had the opportunity to meet her multiple times, it's kind of like, no. i don't, because michelle obama's not political, she doesn't even watch the political shows if you will, she's really just about the work and the people, and that's why she appeals to so many people in america. >> here she is discussing her
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greatest impact. >> what do you think your greatest impact as first lady has been? >> greatest impact? that's hard to say. i'm really good, and let me tell you how. probably the greatest is just one of the greatest things when i see young women, particularly african-american women. young women generally seeing somebody educated, strong, outspoken, just seeing that on a regular basis. >> when you see it, young women and not only her, but also her daughters. >> her daughters. i mean, the optics were just -- >> it sent black girl magic kind of through the roof. i mean, looking at them alone was revolutionary in a way, simone had mentioned her crafting this every woman thing, i think that she is a
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quintessential every woman. she's so salt of the earth, and that's what strikes me as one of the greatest kind of optic differences between her and her family. and the family that's coming in. she talks about her girls, about having perspective and get it together, we have butlers and these folks that are coming in here, will have fewer butlers now than they had before. her kind of salt of the earth thing is grounding. her feminism whether it's stated or not, is so lived. she just is empowering in her very nature. and, you know, i would say the one thing i regret about the need to defend yourself as a black woman is that black women have every right to be angry whenever we see fit. >> whenever we have on, and nothing against david and kevin
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but w46r we have a panel on that's african-americans. here's a panel of black people, cnn is black entertainment news or whatever, you don't have to defend that. you can have a perspective as an african-american -- we're having a conversation about this right now. there has never been an african-american first lady. michelle obama is an eye corn in that way, and deserved of that conversation, that we'll continue on the other side of this break.
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we're back now where my panel. no visit do the white house would be complete without the president stopping in. here he is. >> hi, good to see you. >> thanks for stopping by. >> we were talking about hope and whether or not your administration achieved that. >> absolutely. >> absolutely. >> i feel hopeful. >> what do you feel hopeful about now? >> the next generation. we talked about this, history moves in cycles and what lasts is the impact -- what we've done has had in people's minds and hearts. and that continues.
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>> i want to ask you this. she came to be our first lady, we love her, the approval ratings, you can tell. but she was always your first lady. what surprised you before the way she took on this mantle of first lady-ism. >> we all knew she was brilliant and cute and strong and a great mom. but i think the way in which she blended purpose and policy with fun so that she was able to reach beyond washington on her health care initiatives, her military family work, was masterful. >> you can see he just showed up and they're like, where did you come from. it's interesting he said, history moves in cycles.
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what did you think of that line? >> i think he's right, and often times we have elections that -- to judge whether or not people's mood matches those cycles. the actions have change or more of the same in this particular election changed. president obama, if you look at his approval rating, that may be one of michelle obama's greatest strengths, which is that she has a likability and i think a connection with many of the voters that was transferable to president obama, even when people were judging him harshly sometimes on his policies, they were judging him very favorably. we did see a bit of a swing away from that. the obama administration did become associated with what a
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lot of people didn't like about washington. you saw donald trump win. >> i think this was such a classy moment. the former first lady before her and the next first lady. >> it was a wonderful visit. this is a really great job, you know. >> did you have any advice for mrs. trump? >> we didn't -- we talked about the kids, but my offer to melania was, you really don't know what you don't know until you're here, so the door is open as i've told her. and as laura bush told me. as other first ladies told me. i'm not new on this going high thing, i'm modelling what was done for me by the bushes. and laura bush was nothing but
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gracious and helpful and her team was right there for my team, all throughout this entire eight-year process. >> and your team is doing the same? >> we will do whatever they need to help them succeed. that's one of the things i said to melania, when you get to a place when you can digest all this and you have questions. you don't have questions the day after the election. it's just sort of like -- you're looking around the house, what do you want to know? i don't know what i should know, and i knew that. my door is open. that was really the nature of the meet iing. >> she didn't have to say anything, but that was a classy answer. >> the obamas time and time again are demonstrating the epitome of classiness in this situation. i would note that michelle obama should have been talking to ivanka trump and not melania. it seems that ivanka is going to be the one assuming this first
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lady's role. it's important that we note here that michelle obama never forgot that she's a black girl from chicago with two ivy league degrees and was still just so down to earth, so personable and intelligent and witty and beautiful in every single thing she's done, and that showed through in this independent view, that's going to continue well throughout her time post white house, that's something folks are never going to be able to forget. i think the next first lady to follow michelle obama has a high bar to reach, i would argue is unreachable. >> let's hope that she does well. we wish melania trump well there's a great interview for the first lady. (announcer vo) when you have type 2 diabetes
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breaking news, a deadly crash in berlin being investigated as an act of terrorism. a tractor-trailer plowing into a crowded christmas market at least 12 killed, dozens more injured, suspected driver in custody tonight. it appears to be a terrorist act russia's ambassador to syria assassinated. cnn's senior international correspondent

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